Week 4: Meridian Theory, imbalance, and Bringing Qi to the Hands
Hello again, and welcome to week 4 of the Qigong study group.
This week we will be continuing our training with Baduanjin Qigong and Dantien meditation, as well as learning a technique to bring Qi to the hands. Our discourse will be on the subject of energy blockages, Yin/Yang balance theory and how to remedy these problems.Yin/Yang balance and energy blockages
This section is for reference and deals with energy blockages and yin/yang imbalance in the practitioner and how to remedy them. This is good knowledge to have, and when you have more experience training your Qi you will be able to recognize and correct these problems.
- Energy blockages in the head can cause headaches, poor sleep, delusion, self importance, empty headedness, and incoherent thoughts.
- Energy blockages in the heart or chest cause things like self pity, self doubt, uncontrollable emotion, negativity, and negative emotions.
- Energy blockages in the solar plexus cause mostly anger, rage, outbursts, etc
- Energy blockages in the lower Dantien cause problems with sex or too much sex drive, problems urinating, and problems of the stomach and bowels.
- Energy blockages elsewhere (arms and legs) would cause mostly pain or poor blood flow, and sometimes weakness or nausea.
Additionally, there can be an overall dysfunction and imbalance between yin and yang that affects the energy system on the whole.
Symptoms of yang Qi imbalance:
A feeling of rising heat from the Dantien, feeling hot, jumbled thoughts, anger, sickness of the stomach, mania, psychosis, paranoia, hyperactivity.
Symptoms of yin Qi imbalance:
Trouble feeling Qi, feeling cold, passive-aggressive behavior, general apathy, lack of motivation, fatigue, lack of energy, lack of thoughts (e.g. overly empty/quiet mind when not meditating).
Methods of balancing Yin and Yang and removing blockages:
- Alternate nostril Pranayama from Yoga balances Kan and Li (Fire and Water), and subsequently Yin and Yang.
- The microcosmic orbit removes blockages and also balances Yin and Yang of the energy system, since the Governor and Conception vessels regulate the Qi of the rest of the body, organs and meridians.
- If you have yang qi imbalance, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Drink a lot of cold water to cool the rising heat from the Yang imbalance. If you have yin qi imbalance, eat lots of meat (chicken and fish), nuts and protein. Also, drink hot liquids like green tea.
- For Yin Qi imbalance, do Qigong and Dantien meditation at noon for three days. For Yang Qi imbalance, do the same at midnight for three nights, or sunset if you aren't awake at midnight.
Moving right along, we will next discuss the basic theory of meridians from a Qigong standpoint.
Within the human body, as previously mentioned, there exists a series of channels called meridians which Qi flows through naturally. The 8 Qigong meridians are different from the 12 meridians used by acupressurists and acupuncturists in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The Eight Meridians (mei means channel)
Dumei: Beginning at the perineum and rising up the back along the center line of the body, this channel rises over the scalp and down the forehead and ends at the upper palate of the mouth. English reference: governor channel.
Renmei: From the tip of the tongue, this channel descends along the center line of the front of the body to the back of the perineum. English reference: conception channel.
Chongmei: This channel rises vertically from the pernium to the top of the head connecting the three dantiens. English reference: through-going channel.
Daimei: This meridian encircles the waist like a belt. English reference: belt channel.
Yangyumei: From a point on the dumei these channels travel bilaterally along the back of each arm, around the tip of the middle fingers, along the inside of the middle fingers to the point laogong. English reference: Outer-arm channel.
Yinyumei: From the laogong point of the palm, these meridans travel along the inside of each arm, curve across the pectoral muscles, descend through the nipples, and connect with the renmei. English reference: Inner-arm channel
Yangqiaomei: These meridians begin at the perineum and emerge onto the front of each leg. They descend the front of a leg to the point known as yongquan. English reference: Outer-lrg channel
Yinqiaomei: From the soles of the feet, these two meridians rise up the inside surface of each foot, loop around the ankles, and ascend the inner thighs back to the perineum. English reference: Inner-leg channel.
Niyuan: This point is on the top of the head in the very middle. It is the upper junction point for the chongmei with the dumei.
Laogong: This point is on each palm, where your middle finger touches your palm. This is where qi is emitted or drawn in.
Shenque: This point is the navel and is the junction for the renmei and daimei.
Yongquan: This point is on the sole of each foot. It is along a line between the middle toe and the heel, and is about two-thirds of the way forward from the heel. In martial arts, qi can be emitted in kicks out of these points.
These meridians are also referred to as the "Eight Extraneous Vessels".
Compare to above chart and description to the one below:
The most notable difference is that there are twelve (12) meridians used in accupuncture and that they correlate to the different organs. This meridian system was laid out in the Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine), the ancient canon that laid out the basis of TCM.
For various reasons, these meridians are not suitable for use in Qigong and the neijia. I am unaware of the specifics of how these two systems developed independently, although I would wager a guess that this is due to the 8 Extraneous Vessels being developed in secluded monastic life separately from the practice of Chinese folk medicine doctors.
It will be very important in the next few weeks to understand and have a good visual conceptualization of the 8 meridians, so study the chart for reference.
The next important concept to understand is Yi.
Yi, or I (pronounced "ee" either way), is a concept that is rather hard to translate into English, in the same way that Qi or Jing is. It's a unique concept, and has no English equivilent word. Yi is often explained as being intention or willpower; it is much more than that. Yi is an equal combination of willpower, intention, focus, concentration, physical movement, and doubtlessness. That is the complex part of Yi- you must do all of these things at once for the best effect!
Willpower is strength of mind and determination. Intention is determination to do a specific act in a specific manner. Focus is putting your attention on a certain thing. Concentration is a closed or fixed attention. Physical movement, though not always needed, is moving in a prescribed manner that supports the qi flow. Doubtlessness is having total confidence that what you want to happen will happen. All these things together make up Yi. At an intermediate level, Yi becomes unconscious, to the point that you simply have internal control over your energy- it becomes as easy as lifting your arm or turning your head. At an even more advanced level, Yi is refined to the point that the energy just moves without you noticing it. At the level of a master, there is no Yi! Whatever happens, happens beyond conscious thought. This is referred to as wuwei (non-doing, Chinese), or mushin (No-mind, Japanese).
Yi exists in many more expressions than we realize. It can be much more than just the combination of the above ideas; the above ideas can be elaborated on and refined. They are simply the base ideas to facilitate development and control of internal energetic power.
One such expression that is oft-overlooked is the power of prayer. Most practicing Muslims turn towards the holy city of Mecca and pray at scheduled times five times a day. That is an enormous amount of focus and concentration! Prayer can often times be more specific and broad compared to qigong, as well- you really can?t ask qi to portect you, give you good luck, or help you find love- but you can ask your personal deity, God, or higher force to.
Note that Yi, most simply, means "intention"- that does not include visualization! You can visualize all you want, and most of the time it simply ends up getting in the way. By focusing during meditation and energy work sessions, an individual learns how to focus qi to an area of their body simply by focusing on it; the energy isn't felt coming through the body, it seemingly appears there. When you are this rooted and in line with the qi around you, it becomes a simple task to move qi.
Now, on to this weeks' exercise, bringing Qi to the hands.
Get into a basic meditation position. Meditate until you reach a calm state of tranquil mind. Quiet the thoughts and attempt to feel out your Qi. Focus your attention on the Dantien, and begin to do deep belly breathing as you would in Dantien meditation. Now, raise your arms out in front of you, parallel to the ground, and open your eyes. Position the hands like this:http://mobilemouse.co.nz/ninjutsu/zai2.jpg
(This is the "Zai" Kuji-in hand mudra from Ninjitsu, but the Daoists actually had hand signs like this too that got transferred to Japan as a part of C'han (Zen) Buddhism)
This hand formation is "control of nature". Pay attention to the height of your hands.
Continue to meditate and focus your awareness on your hands. If you wish, you can state to yourself: "I am holding a large ball of Qi in my palms". Focus on the act of moving the Qi from the Dantien to the ball in the palms of your hands. For practical purposes, it isn't really a ball of Qi that is separate from the hands, more like a ball around each hand, and this "Qi ball" cannot really affect any sort of physical change in the environment, so don't get deluded. It is simply a large amount of Qi being brought to the laogong point in the palms. Simply breath in through the nose, out through the mouth, focusing every fiber of your being into your hands, and perceive the Qi flowing there. Try to notice any sensations in the body, in the meridians, and allow the ball to take shape. Try not to visualize; what you want to be doing is moving energy to a location by willpower, focus, determination, concentration, and tactile feedback (e.g body perception or nerve feeling).
Continue to do this until your "ball" feel quite large and heavy. Be sure to take note of the height of your hands and arms when you started as compared to where they are now.
Post your experiences in the appropriate forum thread. Try and do this exercise for about 15 minutes a day this week. Also, continue with Baduanjin (30 minutes a day, more if you wish) and Dantien meditation (15 minutes, more if you wish).
That concludes the theory and exercises for week 4 of the Qigong study group.
Good Health and Training.